Rep. Pete Stauber, unlike his DFL opponent Quinn Nystrom, has nothing to offer the Eighth District when it comes to protecting public access to the region’s healthcare system. At a time when …
Rep. Pete Stauber, unlike his DFL opponent Quinn Nystrom, has nothing to offer the Eighth District when it comes to protecting public access to the region’s healthcare system. At a time when residents of the district are facing the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, access to our healthcare system is more than an academic concern.
Unfortunately, Trump acolyte Pete Stauber wants to eliminate the Affordable Care Act, which currently provides access to either public or private health insurance coverage to tens of thousands of Eighth District residents. In its place, Rep. Stauber offers the usual hollow Republican talking points: He’ll protect people with pre-existing conditions. He’ll push to allow insurance companies to compete across state lines in order to reduce premiums.
There is no substance to either of these claims, and every Republican politician who mouths these empty words every election season knows it full well.
Consider the sale of health insurance plans across state lines. Several states have allowed this for years, and it’s had zero impact on the number of health plans offered in these states. That’s right. Not a single new insurance company has entered the market of any of those states.
That’s no surprise. The biggest impediment to new insurance company entrants into any market isn’t regulation, it’s the establishment of an affordable provider network. A resident of Cook or Ely, after all, isn’t interested in seeing a doctor in Illinois or Kansas, which means any insurance company attempting to break into the northern Minnesota market will need contracts with the local providers. That costs time and money to establish and provides no guarantee that they’ll be able to attract customers even if they make the effort— which is why health insurance companies largely stick with their already established markets. This whole concept of selling across state lines is meaningless rhetoric used year after year to make it appear Republican politicians have answers on healthcare when, in fact, they haven’t a clue.
It’s the same with the GOP’s claim that they’ll protect people with pre-existing conditions. It’s an easy promise to make, but it’s a much tougher one to keep. Private insurance companies won’t insure people with high medical costs if they don’t have to, or they’ll jack up their premiums to unaffordable levels. The Affordable Care Act provided a compromise— it guaranteed a large number of new enrollees for private insurance companies in exchange for a number of concessions from insurers, including that anyone could enroll without regard to pre-existing conditions. Republicans complained that the ACA resulted in higher premiums, which it did— although it also provided subsidies that made insurance much more affordable than before for millions of Americans. But if you think premiums are high now, just wait until Congress mandates that insurers cover pre-existing conditions without the benefit of an insurance coverage mandate guaranteeing millions of new customers to the industry. And, if Rep. Stauber has his way, the subsidies that currently buy down most of the premium cost for millions of Americans, will disappear along with the ACA. That’s why the GOP will do absolutely nothing to help Americans with pre-existing conditions— it’s not possible outside of the kind of framework crafted in the ACA, or through a single-payer system, like Medicare-for-all.
Unfortunately, the ACA is already on life support, thanks to Republicans. With the expected confirmation of conservative ideologue and ACA opponent Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court later this month, the ACA is likely to be wiped away by a politically motivated high court next spring. That means it will really matter who is representing the Eighth District when Congress is forced to clean up the mess left behind by the Republican Party’s longstanding efforts to undermine affordable healthcare for average Americans.
Unlike Stauber, Quinn Nystrom actually knows something about healthcare. A diabetes sufferer herself, she knows the challenges posed by the high cost of insulin and has been an advocate for healthcare reform since she was in grade school— literally.
It was Stauber’s hollow rhetoric, and miserable voting record, on healthcare that prompted Nystrom to get into the Eighth District race and she brings a level of experience, knowledge, and empathy to the subject that Stauber could never hope to match.
The fact is, thousands of residents in our local area are at real risk of losing their health insurance in a matter of months because of Republicans like Pete Stauber. He’s certainly not protecting “our way of life,” which for most of us includes living. Our region needs more than Rep. Stauber’s hollow rhetoric on a critical subject like healthcare.